We have arrived in Amsterdam
Just a brief note tonight.
It is a pleasant surprise when travel pieces fall into place on the first day of a trip. We left home on time Thursday and arrived in Minneapolis on time We left for Amsterdam about 15 minutes late, but we landed 50 (that’s right: 50) minutes early at just about 1000 am local time. We were among the first off the plane, did not have to wait in the immigration line at all AND our luggage was ready just about the time we walked to the carousel. I turned on my phone and there was a voicemail from our driver who was waiting for us even though we were early.
Instead of driving us straight to the hotel, he took us on a scenic back way through Amstelveen. As we drove we were talking about the canals and rivers—both full of water, for those of you who live in drier climes—so he took us to a pumping station and explained how water is pumped from the lower areas into collection areas and then into canals and then into the rivers. It came as a surprise (it probably should not have been) that here they pump from lower areas into higher places. That is, the rivers are actually higher than the canals. As Peter pointed out, if they didn’t do it that way, Holland would still be under water. Still, now that we notice it, some of the rivers are actually above the surrounding land with banks that have been built up over hundreds of years.
When we drove through Amsterdam, I noticed that while the buildings and parks looked familiar, someone had moved them to new locations since I last visited. Nothing was where I remembered it.
Continuing the good travel news, when we got to the hotel, long before check-in
time, our room was ready and they had even upgraded us to a small suite.
After a little rest, we went out walking. The idea was to both stretch our legs and locate the museum area we plan to visit on Saturday. One out of two isn’t bad. When we finally decided to ask for help at a commuter train station, the person at the information desk looked at us and our map and said you are so far out of your way that you aren’t even on the map. [I told you they moved everything I remembered.] We walked back on the path right next to the Amstel River. Much of the shore is lined with old houseboats.
The weather was a mix of heavy, fast-moving clouds—it rained a good bit in the afternoon—and bright clear blue sky. There was wind and the temperature was about 60 degrees. Great weather for walking.
This evening we sat in the lounge and watched the river traffic. Then we went to the restaurant in the hotel and had a leisurely dinner.
It was a very nice evening as we sat and watched the storm blow out and saw the evening sun highlight the building across the river from us and make the river shimmer.
We could not hope for a more successful first day of a trip.